Chris Beard and his
wife Jo haven't had the money to travel to any of
the US races. So when they aspired to put on a
British event, they only had the "Idealized" Hot
Heels race to use as a model. Thank God. The result
is the only other event which deserves the title
As this was the first
year for the event, it was granted an IGSA sanction
at the "Continental" points level. Everyone
expected it would be pretty good. But to help round
out the first full points season, it was agreed
that as the only "Continental" event, the points
would upgrade to "World Cup" levels. Good thing!
Anyone would have felt guilty not awarding the
maximum points for this truly excellent competiton.
Count on seeing "Highland Wheels Extreme"
advertised as a fully sanctioned "World Cup" event
Several things go into making an
event Ideal, and the track is just the start. The
event is set in the beautiful Scottish Highlands,
which explains it media moniker "Highland Wheels
Extreme." You can fly into Inverness which is less
than an hour from your destination by car. If you
don't wish to rent a car, you can catch a bus to a
train that stops literally across from the
(Our Fearless Leader
(Secret Squirrel hiding in
Aviemore is a very small ski
resort town. The track is the road that leads up to
the ski lifts. The scenery from the airport to the
hotel, and from the hotel to the start line, are
worth the price of admission.
The town itself can be walked
several times just in deciding where you'd like to
eat. Fish and Chips (a "Chippy"), Burgers, Nachos,
All you can eat Pizza/Pasta alternate with Sporting
Goods, Travel Agent and the like.
For the spicier appetite, an
upscale Indian restaurant is close. An excellent
Italian restaurant is about a 15 minute walk from
the hotel, but worth it. Kurtis Head screwed up the
dinner bill division by insisting on leaving a 30%
tip, he had such a good meal.
There are some beautifully
architected buildings close by. The home to the
left is mere yards away from the Hotel. There are
also excellent conveniences such as a Bank and a
Hardware Store "just in case."
The rooms at Freedom Inn were
very affordable, clean, and had little
refrigerators, sinks and stoves. Between the Inn
and the train/town is a Tesco supermarket. You
could easily stock your room with any goodies (i.e.
beer) you wanted for the stay. A nice breakfast was
included at a fixed time each morning (7:30 am for
Another benefit was that all of
the participants, organizers, parties and meeting
were at the same place. The proprietors even seemed
tolerent of the dozens of luges scattered outside
and sometimes in the lobby. The tartan carpet
constantly reminds you are in Scotland.
Transportation to and from the
track was provided by a large tour bus courtesy of
the organizers. Normally shuttled in the back of
moving vans, the racers were thrilled to sit in
luxury seats on their way up the course.
When the first bus leaked oil up
the hill, the track was closed. Racers originally
felt Chris might have been overly cautious in
preempting practice. But after seeing how many cars
had tracked oil through the corners, everyone was
thankful for Chris's wisdom. The oil was quickly
cleaned and a newer and even nicer bus was brought
to replace it.
The pits were in Glenmore Forest
Park. Boy was it tough. Scenery and plenty of room
to stash your stuff!
Some people were smart enough to
bring tents or tarps. The rest of the trusting
fools just picked out a pitch that looked extra
green and had a great time. Food vendors set up
areas to supply hot meals and sodas.
Buttboarders Pete Eliot and
Thomas Haas take a moment from gear prep to say
Tom was another rider to perform
double duty on his board. (We point this out
because it is extra cool.)
The tents were in case of rain.
Note (below) the plastic grocery bags over the
trucks. Brilliant! (Less prepared riders resorted
to keeping their bearings dry by turning their
decks wheel side down.)
Jeremy Gilder carves away at his
sole. During his "Clown Shoe" period, Jerry was
considered to be the Brit Favorite. Unfortunately,
his reduced braking power comes into play
Dr. Pete Love, previous
Buttboard detractor, is now a huge
Buttboarding fan! Dr. Love even gave a 3 minute
interview regarding the differences between our
Buttboarding and Luge at www.Now.com.
"where Buttboard illustrates
the skills involved, Luge provides the technical
aspects to increase the performance by the final
The show went out live to 160
million estimated audience!
The opening ceremonies featured
"Spud" the Bagpiper. Spud quickly became a favorite
of the racers, and everyone made sure to pose for a
picture with him.
Eli Smouse crooks a peep at
Spud's Pipes; an RCA pup captivated by "His
Racers suited up while the
inspiring strains of Amazing Grace
echoed through the Highlands:
"Through many dangers, toils and
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home."
The track is currently the
longest and fastest in the World Cup circuit. At
2.5 miles (4K) it required over 1,100 haybales and
reams of snow fence to protect. The organizers even
built Marshalling stands to provide enough safe
"eye coverage" of the massive track. Speed
estimates put the fastest riders at over 70
The volunteer marshals and
course officials were excellent.They all knew their
jobs and performed admirably. The result was an
event which ran as though it was celebrating it's
10th year, and not working out first year
Supermodel Jo Beard (right)
sports a fetching "Lott Classic Racing " sweatshirt
under this year's Day-Glo Marshalling
The Buttboard field was 16
riders strong, running in 6 man Supermass
format. British favorite
Jeremy Gilder crashed out in the first round (a
late braking problem caused, no doubt, by too much
shoe whittling); leaving Beard, Eliot, Pete Love,
and Tim Hilton to bring home the bacon for Queen
Chris Beard was the most likely
candidate with a qualifying time 3 seconds faster
than even Gilder's; but it was not to be. It was
the newly minted "Dr. Love" who was the Brit to
make the Buttboard finals. And British "bacon"
turns out to be more like overcooked, super-salty,
Richard Hodkinson and organizer
Chris Beard both ran boards which were constructed
from plywood while at the event!
Richard wins the "Tom Sawyer"
award, convincing other racers to "show me how this
hand saw works."
Werner Beuchel was a German
favorite cranking in the #4 qualifying spot on his
custom Double duty steed (right).
With such a long track, there
was no need for lane lines, blending zones, or
other artifice at the start. Consequently, there
were no false starts and none of the extrememly
distasteful DQs that can characterize the shorter
track events. Riders picked where they wanted to be
on the road based on qualifiying times. It was
crowded with 6 men across, but if hands collided
during the unlimited paddle, the racers would
apologize, and paddle one handed until they could
move to a clear spot. There was plenty of time to
make up ground.
The track followed the natural
lines of the road. Two main features gave everyone
more than enough excitment: The "Juice Box" and the
Gun Barrel is a left 180 degree
switchback which can be taken at about 30 mph.
However, the approach to the Gun Barrel is almost
60 mph. Those who failed to exercise judicious
braking had a taste of hay and pain.
Coming out of the switchback
with speed was critical. The track flattened and
perhaps even went a bit uphill. A poor exit meant
excruciating slow progress as all the trailing
riders shot past. An excellent exit put even a
trailing rider "back in the hunt" for 1st
After the Flats, the "Sugar
Bowl" arced 180 degree right. It was taken by
everyone without braking because of relatively low
speed, but a good line was crucial to track
positioning for the "Big Drop" on the
With speeds already leaping over
60 mph, the "Juice Box" was next. It was named for
a spectator's juice box thrown into the road before
the turn. But it stuck because no one wanted to be
juiced there. As brave as everyone claimed to be,
the course was littered with nervous braking marks
prior to the bend. The pavement was definitely
uneven, as evidenced by the paint warnings left by
the stand up riders. At about 70 mph, it was a
high-G left, through the bumps and prep for another
high-G right. The bumps would make the riders shift
and dance through the turn. The wheels of the
heavier riders actually smoked under the stress.
Hooking another rider in the Juice Box could send
everyone into the surrounding forest, exploding
against the trees like victims of an airline
accident. And hence, all the nervous braking
All the speed was not wasted,
and the rest of the sweeping turns on the course
kept racers busy. There was plenty of time and room
for drafting and passing before the finish. Also
time to dodge the few moronic spectators who always
confuse these events with a Running of the
The long fast course was a
challenge to every Buttboarder's skills and
stamina. It certainly favored the Pegs and Headrest
of a Street Luge. Yet Dave Rogers (left) and
Gerhard Lanz managed Buttboard times better than
half the Street Luge field.
However, it was Darren Lott's
course that weekend and he set down a blistering
2:46 run that put him a unprecedented 6 seconds
ahead of the two Hot Heels Champs.
Regardless of qualifying times,
no one was ready to give Darren the win.
Dave Rogers led into the Gun
Barrel and Gerhard came rocketing in hot and late,
pulling it together an instant before taking Darren
into the hay. Dave noticed Darren passing on the
Flats and requested some of Darren's speed in
exchange for staying on the smooth section of road.
Darren declined, kept avoiding Dave until he was
past, and didn't look back until after the
Dave held 2nd place and Gerhard
made a comeback to take 3rd. Tom Mason came in 4th,
followed by Pete Love and Werner Buechel on his
"double duty" board.
After the Supermass was done, it
was time for the "Grand Prix" event. Here the
racers lined up in a long row, two abreast. The
fastest riders started in the back. After a rolling
paced start everyone started drafting and passing.
There was action on every foot of the course. The
trick, however, was not so much to win but to stick
with the fast camera men. Dave Rogers did an
excellent job, hanging behind Chris Beard's rear
facing camera and then later pulling inches ahead
of Darren right at the checkered.
As Buttboarders are want to do,
they squeeled and giggled with delight after the
run- "Oh my God! Did you see when I...?"
Look for the faces for those who didn't
win this event. Everyone of them finished
The Scottish Weather had been
freakishly good thoughout the 3 days of riding. The
awards cermony featured amazing trophy wheels Chris
had machined out of aluminum blocks. There were
Nixon watches for the 1st place winners, and
donated Scotch from the local
Darren gave some blubbering
acceptance speech, noting how British Airways and
Virgin Atlantic had "lost" all his luggage for 3
days, and that the grace and donations of his
competitors provided him with running gear for the
first critical practice day.
Spud the Piper returned and
everyone spontaneously gathered for a group photo.
The Highlands echoed with the sound of the
Forbidden Pipes. Then the sky got a bit misty, and
it proceded to rain for the next several
2. Dave Rogers --
3. Gerhard Lanz --
4. Tom Mason -- 3.09
5. Pete Love -- 3.10
6. Werner Beuchel --
7. Chris Beard --
8 .Chris Chaput --
9. Pete Eliot -- 3.08
10. Chris McBride --
11. Bob Swartz --
12. Tim Hilton --
13. Jeremy Gilder --
14. Thomas Haas --
15. Rob Bryant -- NT
15. Richard Hodkinson --